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German Language Guide

Overview - Typing Accents

How do you type accents?

You have a number of options:

  • On Mac, use shortcuts with your standard keyboard
  • On Windows, use shortcuts with the US International keyboard
  • In Word, use "Insert Symbol"
  • Use a country-specific keyboard

We recommend learning and using the shortcuts: they're fast and easy and they work in any software (Word, Firefox, email, etc.). The boxes on this page explain the shortcuts as well as the other methods.

Shortcuts for Typing Accents - Mac

On a Mac, you can type accents and other special characters without changing the keyboard settings. If you learn these basic shortcuts, you can type accented letters in any software, including Word, Firefox, email, etc.

Shortcuts for Accents on a Mac:

Follow these key strokes to add accents to characters.  Hold down the Option key followed by the appropriate symbol and the accent will appear underlined in your document. Then, type any of the available characters, and the accent will be added to that letter.

Accent Type     Key Strokes Available Characters    
Grave ` (Option Key + `) + Character     À à È è Ì ì Ò ò Ù ù
Acute ´ (Option Key + e) + Character Á á É é Í í Ó ó Ú ú
Circumflex ˆ (Option Key + i) + Character  â Ê ê Î î Ô ô Û û
Tilde ˜ (Option Key + n) + Character à ã Ñ ñ Õ õ
Umlaut ¨ (Option Key + u) + Character Ä ä Ë ë Ï ï Ö ö Ü ü Ÿ ÿ    

French cedille  ç

(Shift for uppercase) (Option Key + c)

ç Ç
Upside-down exclamation mark ¡  (Option Key + 1) ¡
Upside-down question mark ¿ (Option Key + Shift + ?)  ¿
German Sharp/Double S ß (Option Key + s) ß

Shortcuts for Typing Accents - Windows

To type accents on Windows, the easiest option is to activate the United States-International keyboard layout:

Go to Start, then Control Panel and click on the 'Region and Language Link'. Then, go to the 'Keyboards and Languages' tab and click Change Keyboards. Click Add, and you'll find "United States International" listed under English (US). You may also want to make this your default keyboard.

Now, you can use the table below to type the accents you want. You will need to hold down the shift key for some symbols (e.g. ~ or ^).

 Press this key Then press this key Resulting character
Apostrophe ' c, e, y, u, i, o, a ç, é, ý, ú, í, ó, á
Quotation Marks " e, y, u, i, o, a ë, ÿ, ü, ï, ö, ä
Grave ` e, u, i, o, a è, ù, ì, ò, à
Tilde ~ o, n, a õ, ñ, ã
Caret ^ e, u, i, o, a ê, û, î, ô, â
ctrl(Control)+ alt(OPTION) , (comma) ç
Right Alt (Right Option)     1    ¡
Right Alt (Right Option)      / ¿
Right Alt (Right Option)   s ß

Inserting Symbols into Word

If you are typing in Microsoft Office and do not know the shortcut keys for the accents that you need, you can insert premade symbols into your document.  However, this takes time, so it is not recommeded for longer documents, where the shortcut keys (see above) will be much more efficent.

To insert symbols into Microsoft Word (Mac):

  1. Click Insert on the top tool bar. Then click on Symbol, followed by Symbol Browser.
  2. This will open up a new box with all the available symbols for Word.
  3. Scroll through the symbols, and click on the required symbol to insert it into your word document.

To insert symbols into Microsoft Word (Windows):

  1. Click on the Insert Tab.  Then select symbol, followed by More Symbols.
  2. This opens a new box showing all the available symbols.
  3. Scroll through the symbols to find the required symbol and click Insert.

Country-Specific Keyboards

Another option is to use a keyboard layout from a country where the language is spoken. However, this method may take more time to learn where the keys are located on the new keyboard layout.

If you'd like to use a country-specific keyboard, you'll need to follow these three basic steps. See the Windows and Mac boxes below for details about how to do this on each system.

  1. Activate/install the keyboards that you want.
  2. Turn on the menu that allows you to switch between keyboards for typing.
  3. (Optional) You may also want a way to see what characters are associated with each key.

Windows Links

Activating Keyboards and the Language Bar in Windows

First, activate the keyboards or input methods that you want through the Control Panel:

  1. Click on the Start button > Control Panel > Clock, Language, and Region > Region and Language.
  2. Click the Keyboards and Languages tab, and then click Change keyboards.
  3. Under Installed services, click Add.
  4. Double-click the language you want to add, double-click "Keyboard," and select the options you want. Then click OK.

Next, turn on the Language Bar:

  1. While you still have the "Text Services and Input Languages" window open (or open again following steps 1-2 above), click on the Language Bar tab.
  2. Make sure the "Docked in the taskbar" option is selected. Click OK to close all control panel windows open.

Use the Language Bar to select which language you want to type in:

  1. The Language Bar should now appear in the lower-right corner of your computer screen.
  2. Click on the 2-letter language abbreviation (e.g., EN for English), then select the language you want from the menu.
  3. Some languages have multiple keyboard options. After you select the language, click the small keyboard icon to select further options.

When using another keyboard layout, open the On-Screen Keyboard to see what characters are associated with each key:

  1. Click the Start button > All Programs > Accessories > Ease of Access. (In Windows XP, it's called Accessibility.)
  2. Then click On-Screen Keyboard to open the On-Screen Keyboard.
  3. The On-Screen Keyboard will show you what letters are associated with each key. You can type the letters with your keyboard, or you can click on the letters on the screen.
  4. When you press/click Shift, Ctrl, Alt, etc., you'll see what new characters can be typed by using these combination keys.

Need help? Contact the LRC, or check out the links below for more detailed, step-by-step instructions.

Mac Links

Activating Keyboards and Keyboard Viewer on a Mac

First, activate the keyboards or input methods you want:

  1. Go to Apple menu > System Preferences.
  2. Click Language & Text, and then click Input Sources.
  3. Select the checkbox(es) next to the input sources or keyboards you want to use.
  4. Be sure to check the "Keyboard and Character Viewer" box as well.
  5. At the bottom, select the “Show Input menu in menu bar” checkbox.

To use these keyboards:

  1. At the top-right of your screen, you should now see the Input Menu. Click on the "U.S." option, and choose your prefered language from the drop-down list that appears.



  2. Your new language should now appear:



  3. You may also want to choose "Show Keyboard Viewer" from this menu to see what characters match each key in this keyboard layout.

Need help? Contact the LRC, or check out the links below for more detailed, step-by-step instructions.

MHC Accessibility Barriers Form